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Feature
In this sequel to the 2008 film Journey to the Center of the Earth, young adventurer Sean (Josh Hutcherson) receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist--a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean's new stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant and escape before seismic shock waves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever.

 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
I'm one of those parents who has seen Journey to the Center of the Earth a few times too many thanks to my son's unwavering need to watch it repeatedly when it was first released on Blu-ray a few years ago, but I still managed to enjoy it at least on the first go around. Brendan Fraser was his usual likable self, Josh Hutcherson wasn't your usual obnoxious kid and the movie moved along at a good pace with decent action and effects. With Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, director Brad Peyton and crew manage not to stray too far from that basic formula, but they do add just enough to it to keep this new adventure from feeling like too much of a rehash of the first.

Dwayne Johnson easily steps into the footsteps vacated by original uncle Fraser as an eager to please stepfather, and like with so many other roles over the past several years has a very personable and likable on screen presence. Michael Caine and Luis Guzman add a bit of comic relief to the mix and interact with Johnson in often times humorous--and sometimes creepy--ways. The special effects are improved this time around as well, which isn't all that surprising seeing as this film is a few years removed from the first, but they were also better than what I was expecting and helped give action scenes such as a chase with rather large lizard and flying atop giant bees a push in the right direction. Everything is also kept at a lively pace ensuring that you're never more than a few moments away from the next special effects or action scene, so it's almost a guarantee that the kids will stay glued to the screen for the whole hour and a half running time. Ultimately it's being an entertaining ride for the kids that Journey 2 is aiming for, and it largely succeeds in doing so without being a drain on any adults in the room.

 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Video
Shot on Sony CineAlta F35 cameras, Warner Home Video's 1080p, AVC encoded video transfer for Journey 2 is excellent, presenting the film in what is probably the sharpest and most colorful picture currently possible while staying true to its digital origins. The movie's lush jungle setting pops off the screen in a vibrant display of color and details such as single leaves on trees, water effects and blooming flowers are exceptional, and the special effects work is really given a chance to shine. I didn't notice any real problems with the transfer such as aliasing, edge enhancement, banding or artifacting, and contrast levels and black levels are always even and deep respectively. Overall this is a reference quality video presentation on Blu-ray.

Audio
Warner Home Video's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is equal to the task set forth by the excellent video transfer, and this loud, overly aggressive presentation is just what you'll need to complete the experience of Journey 2's island adventure. There are quite a bit of directional effects used throughout the film as the heroes make their way to and through the island such as a hurricane, giant insects and golden, erupting volcanoes, and coupled with a strong LFE channel presence you'll feel every bit a part of the action on screen. Dialogue and other center channel output is always clear and crisp though, so no worries on all the action oriented effects drowning out some important piece of dialogue or quip. Like the video, this is a reference level presentation that will show off your home theatre system quite well.

Extras
If there's one technical area that the Blu-ray disc comes up short on it's in the special features department. "Are You Strong Enough to Survive Mysterious Island?" is a 21-minute, high definition extra featuring an interactive map that lets viewers find out more details on the locations, sets, creatures and special effects used in the film. It's not bad, but the length leaves a little to be desired for anyone really wanting some detail on the making of the picture. The rest of the features are rounded out by around six-minutes of high definition deleted scenes and a minute long gag reel of on set bloopers. The two-disc package also includes an UltraViolet digital copy and a standard definition DVD copy of the film which also includes the deleted scenes and gag reel.

 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Overall
I have to say that I actually enjoyed Journey 2: The Mysterious Island more than its predecessor, but only just so. It's zippy and light entertainment that never settles down long in one place, has likeable characters and actors, decent special effects and it's suitable for the entire family. Warner Home Video's video and audio presentation of the movie on Blu-ray is an exceptional, demo worthy one, but the extras are very brief and largely inconsequential. Overall this is definitely worth a rental for the kids and fans of the film shouldn't have any reason to worry over whether to make a purchase or not.

* Note: The above and below images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.

 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - Trailer


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